Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review July 10, 2003 / 10 Tamuz, 5763

Michael Ledeen

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

The Future of Iran: Armitage might want to rethink that "democracy" line | Yesterday, July 9, was the day the Iranian student movement has designated for national demonstrations against the regime, and a general strike in favor of democracy. Shaken by weeks of recent protests, and worried about the mounting criticism from several Western countries, the regime has taken unprecedented steps to head off a potential showdown with its own people:

  • Thousands of political activists, students, and others, have been rounded up and packed into prisons, subjected to torture, and in some cases murdered.

  • Children of parliamentarians have been summarily arrested, as have parents of Iranian democracy advocates living abroad.

  • Great efforts have gone into ensuring that Iranians cannot communicate with one another, either by telephone (cells have been shut down) or radio or television (the U.S.-based independent radio and television stations have been reporting a new jamming campaign against their satellite broadcasts. As of late on the night of the 8th, it was impossible to isolate the source of the jamming). Satellite dishes have been torn down, and smashed in the streets.

  • Ditto for the press. Journalists have been arrested, newspapers have been closed. In short, everything the regime could do to isolate the Iranian people from the outside world has been done.

  • New security forces have been recruited. Lacking confidence in the willingness of Iranians to beat and kill their own, the regime has brought in Lebanese Hezbollahi, members of the Badr Brigades from Iraq (where they'd been dispatched as part of the "insurgency" against American forces), the usual "Afghan Arabs," and, reportedly, Palestinian toughs. All reminiscent of the Chinese tactics in Tiananmen Square, where they imported soldiers from remote regions to suppress the pro-democracy uprising.

For those who believe that revolution is a test of will, and that a regime willing to use any amount of terror required to retain power will probably survive, these are at once ominous and encouraging signs. Ominous, because this regime does not appear ready to go quietly; encouraging, because the mullahs are not facing a handful of revolutionaries, but a mass movement.

Donate to JWR

I have long argued that the United States could provide the decisive support that would guarantee success of the democratic revolution. All Iranians, from the top ayatollahs to the student organizers, believe that America is capable of guaranteeing the outcome of the conflict, and they are all trying to decipher the American strategy. Whenever President Bush speaks warmly of the demonstrators, they are enormously encouraged; whenever some other official — typically from the State Department — speaks words subject to many interpretations (or, worse still, proclaims the current regime "a democracy," as Deputy Secretary of State Armitage did in February), it sends a chill through the hearts of the freedom fighters. Despite the endless barrage of anti-American rhetoric from the mullahs, they still maneuver to be able to demonstrate American acceptance of their power, knowing that any hint of American legitimization of the regime will weaken their opponents.

In Iran, where treachery has long been the national sport and superstition the bedrock of political analysis, the people are casting runes and reading entrails, searching for certainty about the American strategy. Once they know it, they will act accordingly. If they see clearly, once and for all, that the United States is serious about regime change in Tehran, the ranks of the opposition will swell beyond counting. If they conclude that we have betrayed them to their masters, they will give up the struggle, at least temporarily. This is yet another reason why a clear American policy is so desperately needed. And still, the defining document, the long-awaited National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) on Iran, gathers mold in the bowels of the bureaucracy, even though we have declared ourselves at war with the terror masters since September 12, 2001.

In this confusion, the mullahs are stalling for time. They believe that if they can ride the whirlwind until next year, the president will forget foreign policy and devote all his energies to his reelection. They also believe that they can bloody us in Iraq, sending scores or even hundreds of body bags to American shores, eventually sapping our will and sending us home. And they believe that once they can demonstrate possession of an atomic bomb, they will become the North Korea of the Middle East, invulnerable to American attack.

They are wrong on all counts. If this president sees our victory in Iraq threatened by Iranian sabotage, he will act with the same resolve he has shown since the war against the terror masters began nearly two years ago. Nothing would spur him on more than the spectacle of dead American soldiers. And an Iranian bomb would only add to his urgency, and strengthen the case for American support of the democratic revolution. The bomb might deter a military attack, but the doom of the mullahs will not come from the barrel of a gun. It will come from millions of Iranians in the public spaces of the major cities, demanding an end to their misery.

Like this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, ""The War Against the Terror Masters," Comment by clicking here.


07/02/03: Looking Toward July 9: Independence Day in Iran?
06/24/03: Iran: Back the freedom fighters
06/17/03: The Iranian Revolution, 2003: Regime change in the air
06/05/03: Academic Standards: A Middle East scholar has his way with the truth.
05/28/03: The Moment of Truth? U.S. policy could determine Iran's destiny
05/15/03: Iran's Path: Stopping the mullahs in their tracks
05/13/03: The Nuclear Axis of Evil: The people solution
05/08/03: Inside the Dark: Applebaum's ‘Gulag’
05/06/03: Tough Guy: Powell's curious priority list
05/01/03: Desert Shame Redux: Want a free Iran and a free Syria? We have to fight for it
04/25/03: Timing Is Everything: We have a narrow window in Iraq to win Shiite support
04/15/03: Political war can remove terror masters in Syria and Iran
04/07/03: The Others: We have miles to go in eliminating the Axis
04/02/03: French Lies: Take the foreign minister at his word
03/31/03: Why muzzle Saddam's foes?
03/28/03: The post-war terror threat
03/26/03: All Fronts: Military war, political war, psychological war
03/24/03: More Bad News for Daschle: Taking out terror of all nationalities
03/21/03: The Killer Pneu: Virus terror from China
03/13/03: Iran: Nuclear suicide bombers?
03/11/03: A Theory: What if there's method to the Franco-German madness?
03/05/03: The Iranian-Election Revolt: The people speak. The West won't listen
02/19/03: The willful blindness of those who will not see
02/12/03: The Europeans Know More Than They Now Pretend? They choose to dawdle and obstruct
02/03/03: Monumental failure: Nelson Mandela had promise
01/30/03: Elevation: The president knows what it's all about
01/29/03: No Leader: France's Chirac is all about personal interest
01/28/03: The Axis of Evil Redux: Same place, a year later
01/27/03: The Return of the Ayatollah: Washington could afford a little more attention on Iran
01/13/03: How we could lose
01/09/03: Fish are Better than Women: Gauging U.S. priorities
01/07/03: The Shape of Things to Come: The terror masters are now waiting for us
12/20/02: A Prophecy for the New Year --- Faster, please!
12/16/02: Scud Surrender: The "W" factor
12/13/02: The Heart of Darkness: The mullahs make terror possible
12/12/02: The Real War
12/09/02: Tom Friedman's Reformation: His Iran
11/26/02: How Tyrannies Fall: Opportunity time in Iran
11/22/02: The Blind Leading the Blind: The New York Times and the Iranian crisis
11/13/02: The Temperature Rises: We should liberate Iran first --- now
11/05/02: End of the Road: Iran's Mohammed Khatami, on his way out
10/29/02: The Angleton Dialogues, Contnued: What George Tenet doesn’t know
10/24/02: The Iranian Comedy Hour: In the U.S., the silence continues
10/16/02: Sniper, Saboteur, or Sleeper? Channeling James Jesus Angleton
10/01/02: The real foe
09/27/02: The Iranian String Quartet: The mullahs get increasingly nervous
09/25/02: The Dubya Doctrine
09/23/02: Intelligence? What intelligence?
09/12/02: America's revenge: To turn tyrannies into democracies
09/10/02: Iran & Afghanistan & Us: We'll have to deal with the mullahcracy, sooner or later
09/04/02: Iran, according to the Times: All the nonsense that's fit to print
08/21/02: Life and death of Abu Nidal tells us a great deal about our enemies
08/08/02: Can You Keep a Secret?: The media silence on Iran
08/06/02: Fantasy Reporting: The latest disinformation from the Washington Post
08/02/02: Propping Up the Terror Masters: Europe's Solana on tour
07/16/02: Bush vs. the Mullahs: Getting on the side of the Iranian freedom fighters
07/12/02: The State Department Goes Mute: It's official: State has no message
07/09/02: History being made, but the West appears clueless
06/05/02: Is George Tenet endangering peace in Israel?
06/03/02: Ridiculous, even for a journalist
05/20/02: So how come nobody's been fired yet?
05/14/02: Open doors for thugs
04/20/02: Iran on the Brink … and the U.S. does nothing
04/16/02: It’s the war, stupid … someone remind Colin Powell
04/08/02: Gulled: In the Middle East, Arafat doesn't matter
04/02/02: Faster, Please: The war falters
03/26/02: The Revolution Continues: What's brewing in Iran
03/18/02: Iran simmers still: Where's the press?
03/05/02: We can't lose any more ground in Iran
02/14/02: The Great Iranian Hoax
02/12/02: Unnoticed Bombshell: Key information in a new book
01/31/02: The truth behind the Powell play
01/29/02: My past with "Johnny Jihad's" lawyer
01/21/02: It's Munich, all over again
01/08/02: What's the Holdup?: It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism
12/11/01: We must be imperious, ruthless, and relentless
12/06/01: Remembering my family friend, Walt Disney
11/28/01: The Barbara Olson Bomb: Understanding the war
11/13/01: How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV
11/06/01: A great revolutionary war is coming
10/25/01: How to talk to a terrorist
10/23/01: Creative Reporting: Learning to appreciate press briefings
10/19/01: Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation
10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen